Yakima Valley Historical Museum


The Yakima Valley Museum lies in the heart of The Palm Springs of Washington – for you non-Washingtonians, that’s Yakima. If you are from Washington, you have probably heard of the nickname, or seen the now faded sign that greets you as you enter Yakima. It got its nickname from the more than 300 days of sunshine that Yakima receives – see? Not all of Washington is rainy… People either love the sign or hate it; there is no in between. I love it.

Anyway… The Yakima Valley Museum was founded in 1952, and is a great example of a small town historical museum. They have exhibits ranging from turn-of-the-20th-century furniture to neon signs, rocks and semi-precious gems, different species of fossilized trees, Native American clothing and bead work, and a huge collection of horse drawn vehicles. Phaetons, carriages, wagons and even a horse-drawn hearse. Other items in the collection include a whole bunch of taxidermied birds and animals, wooden boats, and paper Valentines.

While we were there, there was a special traveling exhibit on Sasquatch – does it exist? The museum curators don’t really weigh in, but the collection was obviously put together by believers. With no firm evidence. There are some foot casts (easily faked), some articles about hair samples, and a cute yet disturbing diorama of a Sasquatch killing a deer. I totally would have done better at diorama making if Sasquatch dioramas had been an option in elementary school…

And of course, no Sasquatch exhibit would be complete without a copy of the Patterson-Gimlin film. You know the one in 1967 showing a female Sasquatch (though I’m not sure how they decided it was a girl) walking away from the camera? I know you have seen it. Well, apparently it hasn’t been debunked (according to these museum curators anyway…) and the one guy that was there (the other guy has since died) still insists that he wasn’t involved in any sort of a hoax.

Let’s just say that the exhibit didn’t make me a believer; I’m still fairly far over to the “Sasquatch doesn’t exist” side. That said, I do recognize that the forests in the Pacific Northwest are still very wild places. A couple times a year here, someone disappears, usually just off of an established trail, and no trace is ever found.  So, in theory, there could be a large animal hidden there. And no, I’m not saying I believe the people who have disappeared have been eaten by Sasquatches – I’m just saying there are a lot of still remote, wild places here.

The museum also had an interesting exhibit on the internment of Japanese during World War II.  Yakima had a sizable population of Japanese before the war, and the forced removal had a big impact on the community.  Many white citizens were sympathetic to the Japanese, agreeing to store the belongings that could not be taken to the camps.  Some Japanese did not return after the war, and were never found.  The display includes items that were never reclaimed from storage by these internees.

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We wrapped up at the museum just in time for a late lunch, so we checked out the 50’s style diner that is attached to the museum. It was built using salvaged pieces of actual 50’s style diners, and the interior really does look like it’s been there since then.

I loved the vintage look of the Soda Fountain

I loved the vintage look of the Soda Fountain

I got a huckleberry milkshake – so delicious!, and a pulled pork sandwich. Jon got a turkey sandwich. Both were served with coleslaw and chips. The food was good, but not amazing; it was the milkshake that was the real star here. It was made by hand with hard ice cream.

My milkshake at the Museum Soda Fountain

My milkshake at the Museum Soda Fountain

After lunch we were ready to taste some wine! I had some places on my list that I wanted to visit, based on checking out their websites.  I’ll post about those next!

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4 thoughts on “Yakima Valley Historical Museum

    • Yeah, well… It’s one of those signs that is posted by the side of the freeway and there’s no pull off and you are coming around a corner and then you see it and there it goes…. I’ll try to get a pic when I head into Yakima for this year’s conference.

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